Lead Review (Every Time I Go on Vacation Someone Dies)

  • Book: Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies
  • Location: Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Rome
  • Author: Catherine Mack

Review Author: tripfiction



Every Time I Go on Vacation Someone Dies by Catherine Mack, cozy mystery set in Rome and the Amalfi Coast

This novel takes the reader at a right old clip from Rome to Pompeii, through Sorrento, stopping along the Amalfi Coast, ending in Salerno.

The synopsis from the cover blurb:

Ten Days

Eight suspects

Six cities ([sic] actually half are towns but let’s not quibble)

Five authors

Three bodies

One trip to die for

Eleanor Dash pens the best-selling Vacation Mystery series which include titles like “When in Rome” / ‘ When in Nice” / “Death on the Thames” and 6 more. The tenth title is in gestation and may just be “Amalfi Made Me Do It”….

She is now on a 10 day publicity tour in Italy. She hasn’t familiarised herself with the itinerary and is in for a shock when she sees the people brought together. She is supported by her sister, Harper, and tagging along is Connor, her ex-lover, who clearly appears as himself in her novels. She is determined to kill him off (in her books, she maintains) but he is more than miffed that she hasn’t had the decency to give him an alias. He has therefore, sort of, blackmailed her. The motley group comprises, among others, a stalker, a couple of authors and winners of a competition to accompany her  as she tours the sights and carries out her research for her next book. These are The BookFace Ladies, inspired by the “..that thing they do on Instagram when they hold up a book to their face to the match the image” (her novel ” (When in Rome” is half a woman’s face with a Rome backdrop). There are 20 of them, picked from 20,000 entrants.

“I’m a tourist in my own life” she laments as each day The Bookface ladies don a different T-shirt with an image of one of her books.

Connor is convinced that someone is trying to bump him off, as he is starting to join the dots between various events, But are the things that happen to him a smokescreen for attempts on Eleanor life?

The style of this novel is unusual. From the get-go the narrative has a cracking pace, equivalent to a whippet out of the stalls, a breathless concoction of smarts dialogue and repartee (maybe 80% at a rough guess?). There is the curious use of footnotes, used to commentate on the main text, like a stage director from the wings, addressing the reader directly. Doest it work? It is easy whilst reading to overlook the innumerable tiny numbers (237 by the end), and I sometimes found myself flailing to understand the relevance of the comments when I had missed a number, so as a device, it does rather break up the reading experience – and not really in a good way.

There are wry observations and humour (like confusing carbonara when refering to the Carabinieri) which is entertaining, I guess it could be classified as ‘New Adult’.

She uses the novel to take a pop at reviewers (NEVER refer to a book as “meh”: Footnote 50); she details the worry of the first review, especially on Goodreads (the worst) which is universally referred to as Meanreads, where you “can review books you haven’t even read”: Footnote 101.

So I won’t use ‘meh’ (I never have and never will) to describe this novel but it is an average read. It has pace in the telling but the story itself unfolds very slowly. There are glimpses of setting but not enough to conjure up a really good sense of place. It just wasn’t for me, but don’t take my word for it – there are plenty of positive reviews out there.

If you are a fan of Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater, then you may very well enjoy this novel


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